By LISA NICELY — 

Teaching young children proper etiquette may seem like a daunting task, but to one area graduate it’s a joy.

Loretta Neff — a 1989 alumna of Defiance College, and the president of The Elegant Way School of Protocol, West Palm Beach, Fla. — has written her first educational children’s book, Tame Your Manners at K.A.M.P. Safari. K.A.M.P. stands for Kids’ Animals & Manners Program as the book correlates manners with animal characteristics.

The book was published by AuthorHouse in conjunction with The Elegant Way Publishing, and illustrated by Anirban Mitra. It is available at Barnes & Nobles, Books & Books, and online.  Neff has authored three books, of which this is the first release in the sequence.

Neff, who has been visiting schools both in Florida and northwest Ohio to share her book, said “It’s fun being surrounded by the kids and seeing them engaged during readings. They adore the illustrations while the teachers enjoy seeing them learn such as when we introduce ourselves and stand as tall as a giraffe.”

“I think the lessons in Tame Your Manners offer incredible tools and invaluable life skills for every child,” Neff said of manners and etiquette.

“I always envisioned creating a foundation to give all children access to these skills (etiquette lessons), and books were the best way to make them attainable for busy families and get them in the hands of underprivileged children.”

The suggested retail price of the book is $14.95. An average of $10 from every book sold through the Elegant Way Foundation benefits charities, and Neff plans to place great emphasis on serving those within her Florida and northwest Ohio communities. The foundation is a philanthropic organization with a mission to “promote manners and civility by providing educational programs, financial resources and volunteer support for the benefit of children and young adults” through charities, missions and schools.

Neff was in the area in May to read her book to several area elementary classrooms (including Ayersville, Defiance, Noble and Tinora). She plans on coming back this summer to do events with the Defiance Public Library, Children’s Lantern and The Compass, among others. Neff will also be doing book signings this summer throughout Ohio and Michigan at the Barnes and Noble stores including one at Fallen Timbers.

One of the local classrooms Neff visited was Karri Ashbaugh’s third-grade class at Defiance Elementary School. Ashbaugh said she truly enjoyed the presentation and that Neff “radiated light and kindness to me and my students” and “seemed truly passionate” about what she had to share.

Neff said she is happy about how well children seem to like the book. “It’s a sheer joy for me that the book is being so well received. I had no idea I created something that appealed not only to both boys and girls, but adults too,” she said, adding some parents have told her they have purchased the books for 14- to 15-year-olds as well as 3-year-olds.

Tame Your Manners already has received praise from several well-known organizations.

The Children’s Book Review said that Neff “provides kids with an enjoyable and humorous approach to improving manners and etiquette and creating relatable experiences that put the lessons of social graces into perspective — including bullying.” It states that the children will enjoy reading the book alone or in a group setting.

Lizzie Post, an author and spokesman from The Emily Post Institute, even gave a testimonial for the book, stating that “Tame Your Manners at K.A.M.P. Safari is a creative and fun way to introduce kids to the concepts of etiquette that are the foundation behind most of our manners.”

Neff said having a testimony from the Emily Post Institute is “priceless.” “For me that is the pinnacle in my field, and I feel incredibly honored and grateful,” she said.

Currently Neff is working on the second children’s K.A.M.P. book, which will cover tea etiquette.

For more information on Neff’s books, visit http://tameyourmanners.com or www.ewbooks.org.